Morning Fizz: Another Campaign Season Claim
Caffeinated News and Gossip featuring aspirational funding, inklings of reality, and blame.
1. As we reported earlier this week, the proposed parks district, which will cost the average Seattle property owner about 34 cents per $1,000 of property valuation, won't (as opponents have claimed histrionically claimed) increase your property taxes by 20 percent; "Your property taxes would increase by 20%!" their flier says.
It's more like a .87 percent increase on your property tax bill—about nine cents extra. The Seattle Times Truth Needle column agreed with us yesterday, calling the claim from the anti-parks campaign "False."
Another campaign season claim that appears to be false?
Proponents of Initiative 107, which would increase training requirments and increase the minimum wage for pre-kindergarten child-care providers to $15 an hour starting next year (as opposed to the citywide phased-in $15 minimum wage increase), say it would cost just $3 million a year. The 107 campaign, backed by SEIU 925, has an interest in noting a reasonable bill because the measure doesn't identify a funding source—and it's competing on the ballot with a mayor and city council-backed pre-K measure (for classroom hours) that would be funded.
According to a memo drafted by city budget staff, the true cost would be closer to $100 million a year, if the city commits to implementing the 107 campaign's stated "aspirational" goal of ensuring that no family in Seattle spends more than 10 percent of its income on child care.
A memo from city budget director Ben Noble flags another issue about the I-107 bill, noting that if it passed, the city could be on the hook financially despite the measure's silence on funding. Noble's memo reads in part:
[G]iven that I-107 provides for no clear funding source to meet the mandates and requirements for the initiative, the City would presumably be required to fund the program elements from the General Fund or divert funding from other revenue sources such as the Families and Education (F&E) Levy. To put this potential funding demand in context, consider that the entire F&E Levy revenue is only $29 million annually, and that the City’s current allocation of General Fund to human services programming is $66 million annually. Redirecting all spending on human services and the F&E Levy would place the City in the approximate range of being able to fully fund I-107.
Meanwhile, the 107 campaign is reportedly preparing to sue the city tomorrow morning to separate I-107 and the city's pre-K ballot measure, arguing that they aren't related. John Shochet, a spokesman for the city attorney's office, tells Fizz the two proposals are "on the same topic," and therefore must compete on the same ballot.
2. The Tenants Union, a Seattle-based housing rights group, along with the Washington state Low Income Housing Alliance, is charging that the Washington State Supreme Court violated two tenants' rights when the court ruled that the tenants, who were wrongfully sued for eviction (according to a lower court) still couldn't have their names removed from court records "in order to preserve their ability to seek housing," according to a statement released by the WLIHA and the TU yesterday.
The Tenants Union and WLIHA say the two tenants were denied access to housing because of their inaccurate eviction records, which were revealed through a tenant-screening despite the fact that neither of the pair were ever actually evicted.
“If the mere filing of an eviction lawsuit is enough to forever limit your housing options, what tenant would ever try to defend against an illegal action by their landlord?" Tenants Union director Jonathan Grant asked keenly in the statement.
Ironically, given that he had just deflected the question by blaming the state, Murray added: "I don't believe it's an issue of pointing fingers."
3. Given the recent inkling of reality coming from onetime tunnel-booster Mayor Ed Murray about the Bertha bust, Murray was pressed yesterday during a media availability about the latest gloomy tunnel news—tunnel boring may not resume again until mid-spring 2015.
KIRO radio's Brandi Kruse asked Murray if the city was reevaluating its commitment to the project.
Murray said the city was "anxious" for the state and the contractor to work out the problem "so that they can move forward" and the city can hold up its portion of the project. "We're fully ready to work on our end."
Ironically (unwittingly?), given that he had just deflected the question by blaming the state, Murray added: "I don't believe it's an issue of pointing fingers." And for good measure, boasting that the city was ready to make good on its role in the project after locking down the seawall funding, he then pointed fingers, saying that when he took office in January the previous administration had left the seawall finances "a mess."
4. Speaking of Murray vs. McGinn, here's another excerpt from Josh's Seattle Met feature, a blow-by-blow account of last spring's $15 minimum wage negotiations:
Capitol Hill chamber leader Michael Wells remembers the business crew’s discombobulated six-block walk from the chamber of commerce office to city hall, on April 25, to update the mayor on their latest vote count.
“Every single one of us was on our phone,” says Wells, “either calling our boss or our board president to say, ‘Okay, I’m voting yes. Can I vote yes?’ ” The reply was typically a question about how the other members of the business faction were voting. “And then we’d have to say, ‘Yes, Meinert’s voting yes,’ or ‘Yes, the chamber’s voting yes’—or ‘No, the chamber’s abstaining,’ ” Wells says, calling the scene “comical and weird.”
Speaking of weird, as the cellphone-consulting horde approached city hall, they came across a familiar face: Murray’s former nemesis, Mike McGinn, walking his bike. According to Wells, McGinn asked what they were all doing.
“Oh, minimum wage,” Wells said, casually taunting the famously gridlock-prone former mayor.
“Well,” said McGinn, sassing right back, “it’s about time you did something.”